View Cart → Product successfully added to your cart.
Category: .


A nonfiction novel by Myriam Gurba

Gurba grows up queer, Chicana, and take no prisoners. Her story is a revelation, a delight, and an eye-opener. 

November 2017

5.5 x 8.25 | 160 Pages
Trade Paper

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired.

To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at

ISBN: 987-1-56689-491-3.



True crime, memoir, and ghost story, Mean is the bold and hilarious tale of Myriam Gurba’s coming of age as a queer, mixed-race Chicana. Blending radical formal fluidity and caustic humor, Gurba takes on sexual violence, small towns, and race, turning what might be tragic into piercing, revealing comedy. This is a confident, intoxicating, brassy book that takes the cost of sexual assault, racism, misogyny, and homophobia deadly seriously.


“[Gurba's] dark humor isn’t used for shock value alone, offering instead a striking image of deflection and coping in the face of real pain and terror.” —Publishers Weekly

“With its icy wit, edgy wedding of lyricism and prose, and unflinching look at personal and public demons, Gurba’s introspective memoir is brave and significant.” —Kirkus

“Mean demands our attention not only as a painfully timely story, but also as an artful memoir…. a powerful, vital book about damage and the ghostly afterlives of abuse.”  —Los Angeles Review of Books

“With unconstrained, inventive, stop-you-in-your-tracks writing, Gurba asserts that there is glee, freedom, and, perhaps most of all, truth in meanness.”  —Booklist

“[Gurba's skill] here is apparent in the way she demonstrates her own gradual maturing through her developing thoughts and sense of self.” —Literary Hub

“She tackles everything from sexual violence to racism with humour and directness.” —ELLE UK

“[Mean is] gorgeously written—beautiful, forthright, honest, and just a little bit mean, and I loved every minute of it. Gurba’s is a voice we need to be listening to right now.” —BookRiot

“Gurba explores the stark reality of her suffering as she creates solidarity with other victimized women. Her story is a powerful one, and her voice is certainly one that earns readers’ attention.” —BUST

Mean will make you LOL and break your heart.” —The Millions

“…Gurba uses the tragedies, both small and large, she sees around her to illuminate the realities of systemic racism and misogyny, and the ways in which we can try to escape what society would like to tell us is our fate.” —Nylon

“[Mean] is a book that commands you, pushing and pulling you with the author’s expert language and voice, haunting you long after the pages have ended.” —Atticus Review

“The book is a study in the utility and limits of niceness, especially when it comes to being a nice girl—and the political power of being mean.”  —Pacific Standard

“Don’t let its slim profile fool you, this memoir bursts with vitality and humor (however mordant), all while dealing with issues of gender politics, sexual assault, PTSD, and Gurba’s experience growing up as a queer, mixed race Chicana in California in the ’80s.” —Nylon

“Through her unpredictable style, Gurba offers a welcomed antidote to the formula of the contemporary novel.” —W Magazine

“Gurba tackles hard subjects and ugly adolescent intimacies in short sentences you’ll have no choice but to read out loud to strangers and repeat to yourself, quietly, later.” —Kenyon Review

“Hauntingly, beautiful, and refreshingly blunt, Gurba’s “Mean” is an open door through which she invites you to experience her life, in all its beauty and struggle. I suggest you walk through it.” —Harvard Crimson

“The difficulty and the joy of reading Mean is diving deep into the murky “Molack” waters with Myriam Gurba.” —Bust

“Not one to mince words, this Lambda Literary finalist [Myriam Gurba] nevertheless aims to entertain as she tackles racism, homophobia, and sexual violence in this amusing genre-defying celebration of strategic offensiveness.” —Logo

“Honest and darkly funny, the book is riddled with moments that will have you nodding, cringing, and crying right along with the author.” —Harper’s Bazaar

“…as [Gurba] veers from biting vignettes to poignant verse and back again, she shows reverence for both saints and bitches, arguing that nastiness can be more than just a defense mechanism. In a cruel world, it sometimes offers us the catharsis we need to keep going.” —OUT Magazine

“[Gurba] breathes fire and Spanglish, batters you with her biting humor then buries you in truths you cannot look away from… This is how memoirs should always be written – with fierceness, brutal honesty and a wry smile cutting through it all.” Brightest Young Things

“Bruised but exuberant, Gurba’s brash voice eschews any sanctimonious overtones… With this unashamed, raw perspective, Gurba views her life as a means to demonstrate how a person can be reduced to a mere body, nothing more than an object of desire.” —BOMB

“Read Mean for its humor and stimulating structure. Read Gurba for her unique perspective and literary stylings.” —PANK

“Mean is pure Gurba: brazen, ballsy, and grinning. But Gurba’s first memoir is also poised to be a breakout book—a work that, like Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water, will likely catapult its author out of the small world of experimental-ish short fiction and into a much larger readership.”  —4Columns

“Gurba’s artistic sensibility is so fresh, her wit and observational skills so acute, that she defies all expected tropes and story structure.” —Dallas Morning News

“Through wit and in-your-face brilliance, Gurba tells a story that is both deeply personal and bitingly critical of modern life. Along the way, she also gives us a masterclass in what intersectionality is all about.” —Shondaland

“Mean is a memoir, but it’s a unique one: it’s poetic, forceful, angry, and, yes, a little bit mean, in the best way possible…one of the most moving and inventive memoirs I’ve read in a long time.” —BookRiot

“[Mean] charts [Gurba’s] coming-of-age as a mixed-raced, queer Chicana and delves into the dark recesses of feminism, racism, sexual violence and PTSD with fierce humor where you’d least expect it.” —The Orange County Register

“If you like memoirs (hell, even if you don’t), this one will knock your socks off.” —Hello Giggles

“Gurba’s writing feels devastating and holy and hilarious all at once.” —Autostraddle

“The complexity of [Gurba’s] voice contributes to the appeal of her memoir, which is compelling, suspenseful, both knowable as the girl next door and mysterious…This memoir is remarkable for its unflinching candor, for its humor in the face of tragedy and absurdity, and for its adventurous style.”  —Shelf Awareness Pro

“Gurba has a special skill for capturing the sly friendships of young children, and the way so much adolescent intimacy derives from a shared conspiracy.” —Bookforum

“Mean tackles the most serious of topics—sexual assault, racism, homophobia—with a voice that revels in the grim humor of survival.” Catapult Community, “Staff Picks”

“I am such a gigantic fan of Myriam Gurba. Her voice is an alchemy of queer magic, feminist wildness, and intersectional explosion. She’s a gigantic inspiration to my work and the sexiest, smartest literary discovery in Los Angeles. She’s totally ready to wake up the world.” —Jill Soloway

“Casually frank and grimly funny, the stealth power of this book mesmerizes. Mean excavates one female’s personal history with America’s rape culture, zooming through suburbia, race, friendship, desire, education, family, pop culture—essentially taking on the world—with prose both controlled and popping with singular detail. There is no writer like Myriam Gurba, and Mean is perfection.” —Michelle Tea

“‘The post-traumatic mind has an advanced set of art skills,’ Myriam Gurba writes. Mean tackles the profane and the sacred by sticking one hand into your chest and grabbing hold of your heart muscle while the other hand tickle fights your brain, complete with serious noogies. Aligned with female saints and feminist artists and writers, Gurba vividly offers stories both familiar and unfamiliar in a heartbreaking and riotously funny collection that, like Gurba, is hybrid in its form. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book that covers the territories of class, racism, sexual assault, eating disorders, and more that made me LOL with its ferocious intellect and biting humor. There is just no other voice like hers, and Mean is a testament to that fact. I want Myriam Gurba to translate the world.” —Wendy Ortiz